Posts Filed Under on the road

On The Fine Art Of Not Giving A Sh*t (Wiegner Etna Recent Releases)

Vinted on September 10, 2015 binned in crowd pleaser wines, on the road, overachiever wines, wine review
Peter Wiegner

The wily Peter Wiegner

Viewing the volcanic rock strewn about the foothills of the still-active Mt. Etna volcano, one would be forgiven for imagining that it must take a crazy person to want to farm anything there.

After meeting the wily and eccentric Peter Wiegner, the paterfamilias of Etna’s Wiegner Winery, and his huge Tibetan Mastiff patrolling the grounds for the leftover crumbs of gourmet fare, one is positively certain that it takes at least a mildly crazy person to want to farm there.

Along with son Marco and consultant Michele Bean, the Prussian-born, Swiss-nationalized, and now Etna-dwelling Wiegner has white hair and expressive eyes, all as wild as the combination of deadly-seriousness and comic lack of diplomacy behind them. He basically says whatever is on his mind, with very little operating filter, and dresses like he is farming on the side of a volcano (which he is). That Wiegner Winery crafts such vibrant wines might be a function of fine food and fine wine being about the only things that Peter Wiegner seems to hold truly sacred.

Wiegner mastiff

“You gonna finish that?”

“But it’s not my concern,” was a popular phrase with him when I met him, which he often uttered immediately after a semi-disparaging remark about himself, his wine, or his competitors’ wines. The impression Wiegner gives is of someone who loves to cook, deeply loves Etna wines, loves sharing his opinions, and doesn’t give a shit about the rest of it. I basically loved him instantly…

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They Can Be Heroes (Ben Rye Retrospective At Palate Press)

Vinted on August 27, 2015 binned in on the road
Palate Press Ben Rye

image: Palate Press

Continuing the coverage from my Sicily jaunt earlier this year, if you head on over to Palate Press you can now view my take on a bit of a vinous historic first (“Heroic Viticulture on the island of Pantelleria”).

While in Sicily, I was lucky enough to have a chance to visit both the wind-swept isle of Pantelleria (or, as I will now refer to it, “The Wind-Swept Isle of Pantalleria,” properly capitalized, since that seems to be the most common way it’s referenced across all of wine media, and it sounds kick-ass), and to meet at length with the Rallo clan, the family who head up iconic Sicilian producer Donnafugata (or, “Iconic Sicilian Producer Donnafugata”).

For their sense of hospitality, I would call the Rallos impeccable hosts, but they get the fully capitalized “Impeccable Hosts” title for inviting me to the first ever retrospective tasting of every available vintage of Ben Ryé, their celebrated Passito di Pantelleria dessert wine (“Celebrated Pa…” ok, you’re right, enough already)….

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How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Carricante (Highlights From Sicilia En Primeur 2015)

Sicilia en Primeur 2015 Etna

Message to Etna: No devastating explosions while I’m visiting, ok?

It’s somewhat ironic, as I kick off a series of posts about my press jaunt to Sicily earlier this year, that the wine region I often cite as a source of reasonably-priced wines made from international varieties will now be compressed into a highlight reel focusing primarily on one indigenous variety.

But hey, we gotta keep it real, so my take on the 2015 Sicilia en Primeur event (in its twelfth year, showcasing the wares of some of the island’s best producers) will orbit like a satellite around my new-found vinous luuuurv, the Carricante grape.

Much more from my Sicily jaunt is coming (and there’s been a teaser of sorts published last month via one of my final Answers.com pieces) but today is a cross-cut from the walk-around tasting at en Primeur, with my takes on some of the juice that I found particularly intriguing.

Sicilia en Primeur 2015 Etna

Sicily is entering an interesting time (interesting in both the American and British senses of the word).

It continues to produce a fairly substantial amount of wine, though plantings have decreased by about fifty percent in just over fifteen years (a combination of economic realities and a renewed quality focus). There might never be a better time for Sicily to try to capitalize on its entrenched U.S. market opportunities (hello? how many Italian restaurants are there in Manhattan alone?), with the 2014 vintage being hailed as “la vendemmia perfetta.” There’s serious potential there, if they can get ti together and get some of these wines into the mouths of importers/buyers/consumers. But since we’re talking about Italian politics here, there’s certainly a non-zero chance that they’ll squander it.

Speaking of the wines, best that we get to those before I get myself into trouble (and/or before this all starts reading like the lyrics to a Soronprfbs song)

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